*NEW* LION REVIEW *NEW*

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Heartbreaking drama. 

A five-year-old Indian boy (Sunny Pawar) gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. 

He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

I was concerned that this film might stumble into Slumdog Millionaire territory, especially with Dev Patel at the helm. 

The opening established a similar premise; two brothers committing petty crimes to provide for their poverty stricken family.

However for the first hour, I was completely hooked. It was gruelling, gripping and shocking as Saroo travelled 1600km from home.

Lost and confused with nowhere to go. You really felt for the little man. 

I didn’t realise that there were different dialects in India (Woe is me) with the Hindus struggling to understand Saroo’s Bengali.

Sunny Pawar delivered a stellar debut. I’m surprised he didn’t get a nod over Patel. Patel didn’t even appear until the hour marker!

It takes a lot for a child actor to catch your attention and make you empathise and root for them. 

Most of the time, kid actors just get on my nerves and overstay their welcome. Thankfully, Pawar had nothing to worry. 

The film even raised awareness about the horrible living conditions that orphan children endure. 

Sleeping on the streets, raiding bins for scraps, fearing the police will arrest them or even worse that strangers will take them for their bidding. 

An unsettling encounter between Saroo and a ‘friendly’ man sent shivers.

I couldn’t believe the hypocrisy within the “adoption agency”. 

Beating children and forcing them to learn English. They even lied to Saroo about searching for his family. Devastating.

I was really invested in this amazing true story as Saroo moved to Australia. 

Nicole Kidman (The Hours) and David Wenham (The Lord of the Rings) were brilliant as his new adopted parents. 

Supporting the poor boy as he tried to make head or tail of the new situation.

A harrowing contrast was made when the Brierleys adopted another child. 

Highlighting the true horrors of the agency as the psychologically scarred Mantosh failed to make the same transition as Saroo. 

Not every child as lucky to escape as you’d hope.

It was only when the film flicked forward 25 years later that the story lost momentum.

Award nominated turn? I wasn’t convinced BUT Patel still delivered a sterling turn.

It was nice to see Rooney Mara (Carol) play a normal role. I’m used to seeing her appear in some strange affairs. 

I felt she was a little underused. However, this wasn’t her story.

The pair had good chemistry and the film bumbled along at an easygoing pace as things seemed to be looking up for the fully grown Saroo. 

However, a relic from home soon triggered old memories from his past. Ones he thought he had forgotten.

The meandering middle act was my only niggle. It tested me.

You could empathise with Seru’s depression as he shut himself away from his friends and family. 

Feeling guilty knowing that every day his real brother and mother could still be looking for him.

The haunting nightmares, the visions of his brother’s face. 

BUT there was only so much Google Maps browsing and crazy dream sequences I could muster before I was screaming, “Get to India. Find them!”

I know he was trying to remember his village from repressed memories across a 1600 km landscape BUT the pace really was a killer.

I wanted more interaction with the family. There wasn’t enough Nicole Kidman for my liking. 

I loved the dynamic between Sue Brierley and Saroo over the years. That scene when she revealed the reasons for adopting him were heartbreaking. I wanted more of that closeness.

You really felt for her (and Mara’s character) as she tried to understand what Saroo was going through.

However, the emotional finale was heart-ending to watch as Saroo finally returned to India. The closing credits really hit home with real life footage.

The pace could have cut by a good 20 minutes BUT it was still a brilliantly acted and rewarding drama worthy of your attention. 

3.5/5

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*NEW* FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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Is my love for the Harry Potter franchise wingardium levi-over? There’s only one way to find out.

The short answer, not one bit.

Here we join the adventures of writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards 70 years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

A fun riveting special effects extravaganza that compliments its predecessors BUT tops them? Not quite.

I’ll own up. I’m a fan of the books. A collection that played a huge part in my childhood. The movies on the other hand were a mixed bag. I won’t open that can of worms BUT to cut a long story short; I actually preferred the earlier efforts as they stayed more faithful in their adaptation. The less we say about the Deathly Hallows the better. Moving on . . .

I always loved the little extracts that HP would read about Newt Scamander’s fantastic beasts. Breaking up the main story line and adding to the ever expanding mythology created by the talented J.K. Rowling.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that HP spin-offs would rear their ugly heads after the unanimous success of the box office franchise and the recent Cursed Child craze.

BUT if they can keep this high level of energy, fun and creativity then I’m happy to keep watching. I felt a little more relieved when I discovered Rowling was penning the screenplay. I mean who better, right?

As soon as the credits rolled and that infamous twinkly John Williams score began, I couldn’t resist a little grin.

You couldn’t have picked a better actor than the Oscar winning Eddie Redmayne. He was perfect. I was a little weary about his interpretation at first. I was worried that Newt was going to come across a little simple. Especially how he mumbled out of the side of his mouth.

“We’re going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They’re currently in alien terrain surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet; humans”.

However once you got used to Newt’s manner and we delved a little more into his past, you soon realised this timid and socially awkward wizard was more in tune with his creatures in his TARDIS-esque suitcase than the Muggle world.

The special effects were fantastic (I know. Original). The 3D is definitely worth an investment with coins, creatures and God knows what else flying out of the screen at ya.

The creatures were excellent. The new additions varied from a jewellery pinching platypus (‘Niffler’), an invisible monkey (‘Demiguise’) to a bizarre looking rhino on heat.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the man (who won an Oscar for depicting one of the world’s greatest minds) flouncing about the place and making weird mating calls.

“Hey! Mr. English Guy! I think your egg is hatched”

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Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury) was great as Kowalski. The Muggle unsuspectingly roped into the chaos. He stole the show with his one liners and puzzled expressions.

The thought of a prequel should have incensed the fan boy in me BUT setting it back in 1920s New York allowed Rowling to explore other aspects of the very wizarding universe she created. The jazz bar with gangster house elves and shots of Gigglewater being a particular highlight.

I loved the culture clash between the Brits and the Yanks. It was a nice touch. Right down to the slang and abbreviations. Muggle/No-Maj. Wizarding Senate/The Ministry of Magic.

It was fun and entertaining enough with Scamander and his rag tag team of misfits desperately trying to capture all the beasts. BUT it wasn’t all perfect.

Colin Farrell played the sinister Graves brilliantly. BUT there wasn’t enough of him.

I felt when the film deviated from Scamander, I lost interest. The story got bogged down too much with Ezra Miller’s (The Flash) Credence Barebone and the religious cult. Samantha Morton (Minority Report) played the abusive leader well. BUT it didn’t really go in the direction I expected.

The dark angle had potential and introduced a new menace with the infamous Grindelwald. Hardcore HP fans will already be familiar with that name. For others, the reference might be missed. And to be honest, the whole thing felt like another Voldemort (Sorry, you-know-who) retread.

The mystery Obscura (a dark force harvested within magical folk) certainly freaked me out BUT also flagged a number of questions.

I found Katharine Waterston’s (Inherent Vice) character quite irritating and her delivery was a little flat. BUT once she got caught up in the chaos with Newt and co, she soon grew on me. Her quirky mind reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), on the other hand, made more of an impression

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What?

Jon Voight (Deliverance) was completely unnecessary in his role. Anyone could have played him. In all fairness, there were a lot of faces that popped up in this that were nothing more than flashy cameos.

God knows how they are going to make another FOUR movies?! (That’s right!). It’s best to ignore that little fact before viewing this and take it as a solo effort for now.

BUT as long as they don’t get too bogged down by the dark stuff, I’m happy to take another journey with Newt Scamander and his fantastic beasts.

3.5/5

*NEW* NOCTURNAL ANIMALS REVIEW *NEW*

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Strange, hypnotic, tense, nail biting, different. Certainly one for the books.

An art gallery owner (Amy Adams) is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel (Jake Gyllenhaal), a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.

I hadn’t even sat down and got comfortable before I was wondering what the hell I was getting myself into.

I never like to read too much about a film. All I had to go by was the hype. The endless promotion and tweets. I had to seek it out. The eye popping opening sequence certainly grabbed my attention as a bunch of morbidly obese elderly naked women gyrated and flaunted their money makers across the giant silver screen.

I kid you not. I have to admit I wasn’t overly impressed with the first 15 minutes BUT director Tom Ford’s (A Single Man) hypnotic visual style (aided by Seamus McGarvey’s beautiful cinematography) and Adam’s (Arrival) presence kept me going.

Abel Korzeniowski’s musical score was something else. Perfectly balanced against the haunting backdrops.

It was only when Susan (Adams) received a mysterious manuscript from her ex husband that my interest was peaked. A dual narrative set with Susan’s (Adams) cynical lifestyle and unhappy marriage to Hutton (Armie Hammer – The Man from U.N.C.L.E) running alongside Edward’s (Gyllenhaal – Demolition) story.

Gyllenhaal was superb. He really excelled in playing both the author and his fictional counterpart Tony. Nightcrawler certainly marked a turning point in ol’ Darko’s impressive career and he delivered yet another sterling performance. Oscar?

The film flicked back and forth from Adams’ past to Tony’s fictional struggle. The only problem was that I was found myself more interested with the fictional world than the real one. I’m sure that was supposed to be the point BUT it was a little frustrating watching the talented Ms Adams become increasingly more passive. A mere spectator in her own narrative.

The cut backs conveniently appeared at the tensest moments of Tony’s traumatic journey in the desert as his family crossed paths with some unsavoury characters.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick Ass) was superb as the demonic Ray. A complete change of role for him. A revolting creature lurking in the darkness. Dare I say, a nocturnal animal waiting to strike. I really detested him. A great performance.

The suspense had me on tenterhooks as the family feared for their lives. BUT every time we cut back to Susan dealing with her empty and frustrated life, I was urging the film to get back to Tony.

The questions piling up. Why is Susan so captivated with this story? Did this happen to her? Is this why she is no longer with Edward?

The supporting cast were impeccable. Michael Shannon (Midnight Special) was equally good as Bobby. The cop with nothing to lose. Ready to do anything to help Tony get justice. Made a change to see him play something less sinister.

I was a little disappointed at the lack of Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) and Anne Riseborough (Birdman). Reduced to passing cameos as Susan’s gallery friends. Shame. Laura Linney (Mystic River) made more of an impression in her minute role as Susan’s controlling mother.

Despite that bizarre opener, I was hooked to the very end as you began to peel beneath the layers and realize that there is more than meets the eye. Gyllenhaal and Adams had good chemistry as we finally delved into Edward and Susan’s relationship.

My only qualm on first watch was the ending. It was a little abrupt and left me baffled. I actually looked around the cinema, wondering “Did I miss something?”. Perplexed, I went to forums and discussed heavily on Twitter about the ambiguous finale.

BUT for the first time in a while, I was left talking about a film for days. It actually made me have to think. I actually wanted to watch it again. An impressive feat in itself. Especially if you look back on my last months review backlog.

It was suspenseful, engaging and brilliantly acted. There was even a moment that took me completely off guard and made quite a few people jump in the screen. One chap actually yelped in surprise (No, not me!)

If you’re in the mood for something a little different to the norm, I would heavily recommend.

4/5 (Just)

*NEW* THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS REVIEW *NEW*

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A wonderfully acted and beautifully shot drama. One of the better ones.

A lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander) living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from a drifting rowing boat.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond The Pines. At the time of release, I can remember describing it as drawn out over hyped drivel that was screaming for an Oscar. When I heard similar comparisons being made from other critics about this latest offering, it didn’t build up high hopes for me.

BUT I was pleasantly surprised and rewarded with a highly engaging and heartfelt affair.

We follow Tom Sherbourne fresh from the turmoil of the First World War as he takes up the light-keeper job on Janus Island. A man desperate to escape to the furthest part of the world. The sound of gun fire and war planes carrying across the wind. The vast ocean offering little refuge.

I felt the character of Sherbourne was a complete change for Fassbender. To see him play a much more vulnerable and reserved role. Delivering another superb turn.

Adam Arkapaw’s cinematography was breathtaking. It was amazing how Janus Island could look barren and desolate in one frame and beautiful and idyllic the next. Wonderful. Alexandre Desplat delivered another brilliant score that complimented the piece.

The slow burning pace allowed us to empathize with this traumatized veteran who already felt his time was up. That was until he met Isabel (The lovely Alicia Vikander).

You couldn’t fault the chemistry between them (Which is probably why they ended up together in real life). We watched their romance blossom as Tom’s stern demeanour was finally cracked by the inquisitive and youthful Isabel.

As much as the running time may have strung the story line, I was heavily invested in the pair. BUT with any drama, there is always tragedy lurking around the corner. We suffered with them as Isabel went through two miscarriages. Endured the merciless storms that riddled the small island.

Vikander was brilliant as Isabel. The darkness taking away her youth and smile as Tom dug another grave.

Until one fateful storm answered the poor girl’s prayer as a dingy washed up on the shore. A dead man with no papers and a healthy baby girl.

The kid actors that played young Lucy were brilliant. You can’t stop a child going off script and they made the scenes and dynamic that much more natural and entertaining. There were certain scenes where you could tell that Fassbender and the cast were having to improvise.

However as time passes, Tom soon discovers that a grieving widow in the village visits the cemetery mourning the husband and daughter that were lost at sea. Throwing him into a crisis of conscience with moral and ethical implications that could destroy the lives of his own family.

Rachel Weisz was superb as the grief-stricken Hannah. You could feel your own loyalties changing. Understanding Isabel’s loss and reasons for keeping the child BUT also feeling empathy for Hannah who has spent all those years believing her child was gone.

And I’m not sure if there is a rule BUT (of course) being set in Australia, we had Bryan Brown playing Hannah’s wealthy father.

As the inevitable drama unfolded, I didn’t know how it would end (Never reading the bestselling novel. A crime in itself). I was on tenterhooks.

I have to commend Derek Cianfrance for adapting and delivering an emotional story. To convey and capture such emotion so effectively. The grief, the trauma, a mother’s loss. Excellent. Of course that could not have been done without the support of a fantastic cast who played their parts to perfection.

I’m not one for romantic period pieces BUT this is one to watch.

3.5/5

*NEW* DIRTY GRANDPA REVIEW *NEW*

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Dirty, dirty De Niro.

Right before his wedding, an uptight guy (Zac Efron) is tricked into driving his grandfather (Robert De Niro), a lecherous former Army Lieutenant-Colonel, to Florida for spring break.

Rude, crass, filthy and for a good portion of the film quite entertaining. Definitely marmite for the movie fans. You’re either going to love it or hate it. For some, an outrageous sex comedy. For others; a monstrosity and new low from one of Hollywood’s greatest . . . Oh and that bloke from Goodfellas is in it.

The opening didn’t mess about. It skimmed through the cliched set up quickly. Even if it was through a badly photo-shopped montage of Efron’s Jason growing up with De Niro’s Dick. Wait, being raised by De Niro’s D- Moving on . . .

For a moment, I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a dramedy as Jason faced an existential crisis with his boring life imminently set in stone while Dick mourned the loss of his wife. BUT that doubt was soon extinguished when Jason walked in on his ol’ grandpa jerking off. Oh dear.

The first 40 minutes was funnier than I could have imagined. I was in stitches. I actually scratched my head at why the critics gave this such a mauling.

The pair worked really well off each other. This sort of film was never going to win plaudits. It is what it is. A revolting adult comedy with a shed load of revolting college humour. A guilty pleasure that was right up my street; “You still Jenny from the C*ck Block?”

De Niro really didn’t give a flying fook. Effing and jeffing in every frame (I mean come on. It’s not as if we haven’t seen the guy swear before) and giving it his all. The Oscar winning actor has been working with comedies for the last decade (Analyse This/That and Meet the Parents).

It was also good to see a different side to Efron. I didn’t think the 17 Again star would be able to deliver. He has been quite wooden in his latest efforts. BUT it was funny seeing the prudish Jason breaking out of his shell.

I didn’t expect to see Efron running around naked on a beach covered in swastikas and high on crack (Yeah if you’re shaking your head at that then this film is definitely not for you). An unfortunate encounter with a child shouldn’t have worked and certainly tested the ‘awkward-o-meter’ BUT the cringe-inducing tension was too much.

BUT the second half really did push it and killed a lot of the fun making it just plain stupid.

De Niro’s special forces spiel was boring and cliched. His combat moves and crazy body building really took the biscuit and set up a terrible cameo that was wasted on Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon). I’m sure it was supposed to be a commentary on age and that being old isn’t the end BUT this was never going to be that sort of film to deliver that message.

Julianne Hough (Rock of Ages) was wasted in her role as Jason’s insufferable fiancee, Meredith. Anyone could have played her.

The cheesy subplot between Shadia (The lovely Zoey Deutch – Ringer) and Jason was far too hammy and lazy that it slackened the pace tremendously. The pair had reasonable chemistry BUT it was all so predictable and unnecessary as Jason realised that maybe Meredith isn’t the one.

Adam Pally’s (Happy Endings) Cousin Nick was delightfully revolting and wasn’t in it enough. Jason Mantzoukas (The Dictator) was hysterical as Tan Pam; the crazed dealer that the local police seemed to have a soft spot for. BUT despite his hilarious introduction, he soon overstayed his welcome and kept popping up. The gags and lines getting duller with each re-appearance.

Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) was brilliant as Shadia’s slutty BFF Lenore BUT the endless innuendos and swearing was just too much by the end.

And that was the main problem; the longer the film went on, the worse it got. The sex gags, incessant drug use and swearing just went for the shock factor and by the 75 minute marker, I was numb. The punch lines getting more juvenile by each closing minute.

De Niro getting street cred with the local Miami thugs. Not bad. Rapping and dropping the N bomb. Not so much.

As I said before, I expected a lot worse and it was certainly watchable. The gross out college humour that dominated the Noughties (Euro Trip, Road Trip, American Pie) in full flow. If that ticks all the boxes, you’ll love it. If it didn’t, unless you want to see an Oscar great taking a nose dive with his career and flashing his penis then I don’t think this is going to offer anything for you.

2.5/5

*NEW* INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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We waited 20 years for this?!

Two decades after the first Independence Day invasion, Earth is faced with a new extra-Solar threat. But will mankind’s new space defenses be enough?

It is what is. A visually stunning and ridiculous cliched mess of a guilty pleasure. Fun viewing regardless.

Independence Day was an Oscar winning (Yup. You read that, right?) blockbuster that delivered one of the most iconic movie shots of all time. Albeit an alien death ship blowing up the White House.

The only problem is that it has been 20 years since Independence Day opened the door for bigger blockbusters with even more ridiculous effects and sillier plots that have milked every stupid cliche dry. A couple of them penned by Roland Emmerich himself.

I’m not going to lie. This was probably the one guilty pleasure I was actually looking forward to. BUT did it deliver? After the long wait and the return of some old faces, I can say with full fervour . . . Meh.

Let’s start with the good. This won’t take long. The effects (of course) were fantastic. Visually stunning. The alien technology from the ‘War of 96’ creating an ultra-futuristic 2016 (Well, Washington DC) with hovercrafts, spaceships and giant floating jumbo screens. Crazy.

The 3D was quite good especially when our green friends made their proper introduction. Missiles and tentacles flying out left, right and centre. It was great to see Goldblum, Pullman and Spiner back in the mix.

Pullman looked rough. He tried his best to work with the “serious subplot” as the tormented ex-President still plagued by strange visions. BUT it didn’t really work and there wasn’t even a “Today, we celebrate our Independence Day” speech. One of the greatest speeches in movie history!

Spiner (Star Trek) hasn’t aged a day and was just as nuts as he was the first time round. Goldblum’s dry Ian Malcolm wit has been missed and was definitely needed to poke fun at this!

In a ridiculous scene involving a 50 foot alien chasing a school bus of children (Yup. That stupid), our hero can’t leave until the kids save their dog. “Let’s not forget the dog. There’s always a dog”.

If anything that scene summed up the movie. It felt like one big parody of the original. Emmerich and co must have banked everything on Will Smith’s return. BUT studio rumours speculated that the Hollywood megastar demanded $50m (Whaaat?!!) to appear in two sequels.

Once they turned him down, the writers just put any old thing together. You could tell that Emmerich was still sore about Smith’s absence as he wrote the resilient Captain Steven Hiller off in an embarrassing fashion. The bad ass, that welcomed an alien to Earth with a punch in the face, bumped off in a botched test practice. Ouch.

He seemed to punish the Hiller clan full stop. Jessie T. Usher was terrible as Dylan Hiller. It didn’t help that his character was so weak and by the closing minutes, you soon realised how unnecessary he was. Vivica A. Fox didn’t receive any better treatment with her cameo.

All the old faces tried to do the exact same thing with worse results. And when they weren’t involved, they were replaced with annoying new faces. William Fichtner (Prison Break) was wasted in his role while Sela Ward (House) was a highly unmemorable President.

Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist) was a weak and needless character. The whole Africa subplot was a joke and a bad one. Kicking alien ass with an African warlord? Really. I’m either making that sound better or worse. Even if Areo Hotah (Deobia Oparei – Game of Thrones) was said warlord.

Liam Hemsworth (Hunger Games) stole the show and managed to work his charisma on a dull role. Maika Monroe (It Follows) wasn’t too bad. I wish more was made out of the pair as they had good chemistry and were the least annoying out of the bunch.

Goldblum wasn’t really in it as much as you’d think. His presence missed in every frame. Smith and a character of Randy Quaid’s gusto was also missed and needed in this messy retread.

This sort of film is what my mate would call, ‘a sh*t BUT good’ film. It was a laugh (probably for all the wrong reasons) and it killed the time. BUT when you compare it to Emmerich’s weaker efforts *cough* 2012 *cough*, it still fell short.

There were astronauts drinking moon milk, for God’s sake. Seriously? The questions? I know Independence Day wasn’t a work of art by any means. Goldblum destroyed an alien mothership with a computer virus. Because all alien death machines have USB ports, right?

*POTENTIAL SPOILER* Things were left open for another BUT they’re going to have to cook up something pretty damn special after the poor box office takings and mixed reviews. That might be put on hold or the SyFy channel.

Despite all the crazy visual effects and silly fun; this sequel was an empty vessel that lacked the charm and energy of the original. Worth a watch for the die hard fans and B-movie cineastes.

2.5/5

*NEW* THE REVENANT REVIEW *NEW*

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A revelation? An Oscar worthy performance from the man of the hour?

In a nutshell, NO.

A frontiersman (Leonardo DiCaprio) on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.

Overlong, over-rated and disappointing. I really wanted to like this. For all the praise, Twitter craze and reviews, I expected a well-acted visceral and brutal tour de force with one man seeking vengeance. Is this really the film that gave Leonardo his overdue Oscar? Really?

The first 45 minutes were slow burning BUT engrossing. Inarritu’s long takes used to full effect. A tense encounter with a pack of bloodthirsty natives made for a tense and brutal watch. It was a shame that momentum wasn’t kept for the rest of the piece.

DiCaprio delivered a good turn. There’s no quarrelling about that. BUT an Oscar? He certainly carried the piece as much as he could. BUT there was only so many picturesque landscape shots (from the Oscar winning and Innaritu stalwart Emmanuel Lubezki) and grunting from the leading man that could keep me interested.

I was more impressed by the underrated British and Irish supporting cast. Domhnall Gleeson continues to impress yet again in another scene stealing supporting role (Ex Machina and Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Will Poulter (The Maze Runner) was equally as good as the conflicted Bridger. A great transition from the Son of Rambow star.

And once you were able to understand Tom Hardy’s (Legend) incessant Southern mumbling, he was the perfect foe. He really looked the part. A weasel of the lowest denomination. Back stabbing and plotting at any given opportunity. If it wasn’t for Hardy’s performance, I don’t think I would have persevered to see the outcome.

The grizzly bear attack sequence was nail-biting stuff. The animation and a little improv from DiCap made this a tense show down and almost realistic, to an extent. The elongated attack kept me on tenterhooks. Thinking our hero was safe. Only for the grizzly menace to come back for more.

The only problem was that the rest of the film was spent watching DiCap crawl, growl and shiver across the frozen terrain and woodland. Broken up by metaphorical imagery and flashbacks that were pretty self-explanatory. I was more interested in Hugh (DiCap) and Hawk’s (Forrest Goodluck) relationship. Something that was barely touched on and reduced to a few scenes.

DiCap really went through it. Putting his Bear Grylls skills to work. Chewing raw fish and enduring arctic conditions. BUT I wasn’t hooked. I wanted to be rooting for the guy from the first minute. Tom Hank’s turn in Cast Away had me transfixed. I never felt so sad about a man losing his volleyball. Matt Damon’s Oscar nominated turn in The Martian had me praying for his return home.

I love Innaritu’s works. Birdman was one of my favourite films of 2015. It was different and featured a resurgent performance from Keaton. DiCaprio is a superb actor BUT I felt that he got the Oscar for the wrong film.

A good portion of Hugh’s “journey” tested my patience. I don’t need horse back chases and natives attacking every minute of the movie to keep my attention (Although it might have helped) BUT for two and a half hours, I needed something more. The showdown made for a redemptive finale in every aspect. Both for our hero and yours truly. And that was down to Hardy’s turn. I really wanted to see him get his comeuppance.

Maybe this was a case of too much hype. From all the reviews, you would have thought that nobody had ever seen a Western before. The plot was hardly original, the pace was too much and DiCaprio did his best BUT I would struggle to watch this again. Let alone put this on a top movie list.

Watchable BUT nowhere near as rewarding as I’d hoped.

3/5